This week I’m reviewing a pure comedy series. Airing from August to November of 2003, Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu is a comedy sequel to Full Metal Panic!. It’s by Kyoto Animation (in fact their first Full Metal Panic production, as the first series was done by Gonzo) and it’s pretty far removed in tone from the original series. While Full Metal Panic! had a fair deal of comedy (mixed in with its action and plot), Fumoffu is all comedy, and arguably the best Full Metal Panic has to offer as a series.
While it’s not totally unintelligible, it helps to know a little about Full Metal Panic! (or FMP!) going into Fumoffu, particularly in terms of characters and setting. It all takes place in an alternate universe where the Soviet Union never fell and is still a dominant superpower within the world. In addition, now all major powers use Arm Slaves in their armies. They’re pretty much mecha. FMP! is a mecha anime series, though they don’t particularly feature into Fumoffu as much. Anyway, in this world, there’s an independent peacekeeping force called Mithril that basically runs off technology way past that of other countries’ militaries. It’s essentially a PMC, but Mithril are the good guys. Anyway, one of the main characters is a member of Mithril, called Sagara Sousuke. He was born and raised in war-torn Afghanistan (particularly during the Soviet invasion of the 80s, which also happened in real life) and as a result he’s incredibly military-oriented and paranoid that there may be some sort of attack at any given moment. According to the other main character, Kaname Chidori, he totally lacks common sense. And that’s pretty much the truth.
Each episode is split into one or more parts that are little substories. They pretty much have nothing to do with each other and are just fun little situations. For example, there’s the quintessential beach episode where all the characters… Well, go to the beach. The plot here is that Chidori gets a new swimsuit, but Sousuke doesn’t say anything and Chidori, being a super tsundere, gets pissed and somehow gets kidnapped. And of course, as her bodyguard, Sousuke has to rescue her. You may think she gets kidnapped because of her value has a target (the very reason Sousuke is protecting her) but it’s in fact some stupidly inane funny reason. And that in a nutshell is how most of the episodes go. There are some wacky situations that generally serve to highlight some feelings between Chidori and Sousuke. There’s obviously some romantic tension between the two, and quite a few of the episodes highlight that fact (and it’s why Chidori is tsundere). Anyway, there are 15 episodes in Fumoffu, and they’re all filled with these little situations, and that’s the plot. The situations are almost all pretty funny (there’s only one episode I can think of off the top of my head that wasn’t pretty damn funny) and the series is quite enjoyable to watch.
The other main character is Kaname Chidori, and she’s just a normal high school girl. Well, if only anime were that simple. She’s actually a high-value target that Mithril has ordered Sousuke to protect, so they both go to high school together. And that, in a huge nutshell, is the setting and situation (with a little extra info) that FMP! would give you going into Fumoffu. Though you’d probably be able to figure out all the quirks and whatnot just by watching the show. All those serious plot-like things I might’ve discussed, like the military or PMC or mecha stuff doesn’t have much to do with Fumoffu. Instead we get the wacky high school antics (with a slightly ridiculous flair) of Chidori and Sousuke and company. As such, the plot is totally episodic and kind of hard to comment on without mentioning each specific episode’s plot, but I’ll try to generalize best I can.
Moving on to the characters, I’ve already touched base on the two main ones, Sagara Sousuke and Kaname Chidori. There are a few other characters in school, like Tokiwa Kyoko, Chidori’s best friend, or Kagurazaka Eri, their English teacher. One major character introduced in Fumoffu (though not particularly important outside of a comedy sense) is Tsubaki Issei. In Fumoffu, he’s introduced as the leader of the Karate Club and falls in love with Chidori at first sight. He and Sousuke naturally don’t get along (as willing or otherwise rivals for Chidori’s affections) so they get into a fight that’s surprisingly impressive. Generally Sousuke wipes the floor with most characters being the consummate military professional he is, but Issei isn’t a joke as the leader of the Karate Club and their fight gets fairly heated. Moving on from the school characters, there are also Sousuke’s comrades and superior officers in Mithril. His teammates are Kurz Weber, a blonde playboy and Melissa Mao, a Chinese-American former US Marine. The commanding officer presiding over the vessel where he works (a submarine called the Tuatha de Danaan) is Captain Teletha Testarossa, a surprisingly soft-spoken girl of age with Sousuke. Of course, she’s hopelessly in love with him, and this comes into play in pretty funny ways in Fumoffu. Unfortunately, she’s only in Fumoffu for a few episodes.
Moving on from the plot and characters of the show, and onto art and animation, Fumoffu’s art style isn’t particularly distinctive or anything. I mean, it serves the show well enough and I can tell what’s going on, but the art itself isn’t spectacular. As for the character designs, most of the characters are wearing the Jindai High uniforms a lot of the time, so I can’t say too much towards that… The uniform itself is alright. The girl’s uniform is white, and the guy’s is black. It’s a neat contrast, but the uniform isn’t anything special. Going into Chidori’s character design, she has long… Okay, in the light novel she has black hair, but the anime has her with blue hair. I don’t have a problem with the blue hair design, and she has a cute ribbon tying it near the bottom that changes it from being another long hair look. Sousuke’s design is kinda cool. As an Afghan (well, probably a Pashtun) in anime, he’s already a little unique. He has that tan look, dark hair, and a neat little scar on his cheek. I think he has a pretty cool character design, probably the best in the series. Moving on to animation, like the art design for the show, it’s good enough to serve the purpose of the show. There are a few bits that are pretty well animated like the run to the women’s hot spring in the hot spring episode. So it’s not bad, but it never struck me as particularly good either. But that’s fine for a show like this, it doesn’t need gallons of well-animated segments.
Moving onto the last segment, music… I’ll be honest, like for a lot of series, I don’t remember the background music. It can’t have been too good or too bad because of that. But I can’t say too much on the subject. I don’t even remember the composer, but, looking it up… Sahashi Toshihiko. His name looks slightly familiar; I think he mighta done Gundam SEED or something. And actually, now that I think about it, I might recognize a track or two from the show, but that’s only because of Super Robot Wars (SRW, I’m a pretty big fan), but I can’t call them good because of that. But for opening and ending themes… They’re more recognizable. I like Shimokawa Mikuni. The opening, Sore ga ai, deshou is a pretty cute song. I like it a lot. The video going along with it is pretty good, too. The ending theme, Kimi ni fuku kaze isn’t as good, and I don’t like the tone her voice takes for the song, but… It’s since grown on me, it’s alright. Sore ga ai, deshou is definitely better, though.
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